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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When Political Will and Sound Economics Align

When political will and sound economics fully align in a simbiotic way great things can happen. Let's hope this is one of those rare occassions.

There’s more than one way to skin a seal and it looks like Premier Danny Williams may finally be listening to voices in Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to using lower Churchill power right here at home.

Ever since the Lower Churchill project moved from the back burner to the front there have been a number of proponents, from individuals to advocacy groups like NLDL.org and even yours truly, who have beaten the drum for local use of the power.

While there are those who spent most of their time debating the Quebec vs. Maritime route for exporting the power others loudly wondered why industry couldn’t simply open up shop where the power exists and in doing so help diversify the economy.

It just makes economic sense that if the province sells the power to Quebec, Ontario or whomever, the purchasers will charge their customers more for that power than the users would have to pay if they bought it straight from the source. Enter CVRD.

Recent reports say Danny Williams and a provincial delegation just spent a week in Brazil, the home base of CVRD, and discussed the possibility of building an aluminium smelter in Labrador.

According to a Telegram report, Williams said, "The province is actively seeking requests from various companies to look at the possibility of an aluminium smelter in Labrador, which would utilize the Lower Churchill power when that comes on stream around 2014, 2015,".

Brazil-based CVRD - is one of the largest mining and metal companies worldwide. CVRD became the owner of the Voisey's Bay nickel project when they took control of Inco a year ago. According to Williams the company plans to live up to all of its obligations in the province, including the building of a commercial nickel processing plant in Long Harbour.

Williams said CVRD is not the only player in the running for a possible aluminium smelter. He said discussions are under way with other companies.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is actively pursuing the issue, the premier said.

There’s no doubt some power will have to be exported in the short term, but if the province hopes to see any real benefit from Lower Churchill that benefit will only come from using the power to attract industrial development and manufacturing. Industries in desperate need of clean, low cost and dependable power.

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